If you do not have a will, for everyone's sake, create one immediately. Without a will you won't have your values represented as the estate you built is distributed.
Writing a first will can be a quick and simple project.
List individuals and organizations you wish to impact. Take care of people first, then give 1% of your estate to each of up to nine worthy causes you wish to support, finally contribute everything that remains to one very special organization (a residuary bequest). Now read a book or see your lawyer and make it legal.
With your completed will as a guideline you can now develop increasingly meaningful estate planning or planned giving ideas. Consider all the responsibilities you feel are important:
* Family - multiple generations, prior marriages, family members with special needs
* Business - succession in the family business, key person retention or replacement, buy out provisions
* Charity - religious organizations, schools, orphanages, micro-finance lenders, and other causes dear to your heart
A quick gift today and a word of encouragement can help those on your list over a rough spot they may be encountering. Then make that simple will. This might also be a good time to consider helping raise money for your favorite causes.
After initial contributions and with an initial simple will as an outline -- it is a good idea to consult your advisers for more detailed planned giving analysis including estate planning.
Philanthropy is an important part of your estate plan. Also consider contributing by listing worthy causes in your IRA or life insurance policy as a beneficiary. The long term effects of your bequest can create a personal heritage that will extend far into the next age.
Endowments are donated with the understanding that capital will be kept secure while yield will be used for a specific purpose. Directions can be added to apply annual income to meeting administrative costs, developing special projects, enhancing curriculum, or even "wherever the greatest opportunity exists."
Your selected worthy cause will probably have pages to print or a download form to help you define your gifts. Ours is available for you to look at if you click on The BFU College Contribution Form.
Life insurance can also play an important role in estate planning. Investigate having ownership of any life insurance policy outside of the estate to avoid possible extra estate taxes. Estate laws vary by location and change often. Confirm any statements from a salesman, or from this article, with your personal accountant or attorney.
Develop a consistent approach of supporting worthy causes during your lifetime. Extend your own version of empowerment by creating a planned gift legacy. Your donations will keep valuable initiatives growing. Your bequest is a last chance to powerfully implement meaningful change in society.
As in all important areas of your life, do not be led by others opinions or sales talk. Take your time and invest your thoughts first. Make your own decision on how you wish to direct your planned giving donations, your bequests, and your legacy gifts.
How do you wish to be remembered?